Category Archives: Movies

The Mundanity podcast

In case you didn’t know, I co-host a podcast with all around swell guy and my good friend Shawn. It’s called the Mundanity podcast, and once a week we talk about all things pop culture, including movies, music, television, and anything else that comes to mind. We have a blast doing it, and if any of you are so inclined to listen that would be just swell. You can listen on our site, listen and subscribe on i-Tunes, or subscribe to our RSS feed using your favorite podcast app. And hey, if you like what you hear or want to tell us that we are terrible, leave us a review and a rating on i-Tunes and let us know what you think.

With that in mind, it occurred to me that most of what I write here falls under the broad category of pop culture, so I’m going to try and move all of that over to the other site from here on out. If you like what you read here then I encourage you to follow me there. I reserve the right to pop into this space from time to time and use this space to write things that fall outside of pop culture sphere, but for now I’m concentrating my efforts there and trying to consolidate. Frankly I’m just too lazy to try and maintain two sites at once.

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my stream of consciousness ramblings and follow the site, and I hope you’ll continue to do so over at my new home. If you like what you there you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and just about any other social media outlet. Shawn’s in charge of that social media stuff and he’s done a great job blanketing just about every site known to man.

Cheers,

JLo

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Unleash the Mundanity!

I’ve been absent from this space lately, but it was for a good reason. I’m happy to announce the launch of a brand new pop culture podcast with my good friend and co-host, Shawn. It’s been a blast putting this together and we’re very happy to be able to share it with you today.

You can find the Mundanity podcast here on our website, or subscribe to our RSS feed here. We’re hoping to be up and running on iTunes shortly as well.

In episode 1 we introduce ourselves a bit, talk about the genesis of the podcast name, name our five time capsule films, and then talk in depth about House of Cards Season 3, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Better Call Saul. We then preview three of the upcoming blockbuster movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, and SPECTRE.

We hope you’ll have a listen and let us know what you think.

In the meantime, I’ll be finishing the best of the 1950s playlists this week and then tackling the final decade left, the 60s.

Cheers.

My tiny piece of the Man in Black

Like many of you I’m sure, I was forced against my will we took the opportunity this holiday weekend to do some spring cleaning, which involved exploring areas of my closet that haven’t been touched by human hands since we moved into this house giving my closet a thorough sorting and scrubbing. Among a few boxes in the back I found what my wife called the biggest pile of useless junk ever collected some priceless memorabilia from my younger days as a concert hound. As you can probably guess most of it was various and sundry items from R.E.M. shows from the 80s. Big shock there, huh?

Tucked in the back though is one of my real prize possessions, and one that I have shown very few people over the years. It’s my own little piece of the great Man in Black, Johnny Cash, and I acquired it thanks to the apathy of my fellow students at Eastside High School in 1987. For this I am forever grateful to you all. Here’s how it came to be.

I was walking through the halls one spring day in 1987, past one of those fundraising auctions (for I forget what) that you often see in high schools in the spring. I can only assume it was something earth shattering like the Class of ’87 raising money to pay for prom or similar. I basically ignored this thing for a couple of days, but decided to take a look since it supposed to end that afternoon and who knows I might be able to pick up a bargain in the process. A I suspected though, the tables were littered with things like gift certificates for dinner for two at Applebees and the like, 50% of coupons for services at local businesses that no teenager would use in a million years, and more of the plain vanilla kind of stuff that nobody really needs but everybody bids on that these kinds of sales.

When I got to the last table, however, I saw a very nondescript manilla envelope at the end that didn’t have a single bid on it yet. I didn’t give it much thought but then the return address caught my eye.

Note the return address and the post date.

Note the return address and the post date.

House of Cash? As in the Johnny Cash museum in Tennessee? No way.

Then I noticed the envelope was open and so I slid the contents out on to the table. Inside I saw this:

Sweet fancy Moses! You've got to be kidding me?!?

Sweet fancy Moses! You’ve got to be kidding me?!?

What i was looking at was a tour program/promotional book signed by Johnny Freaking Cash. I tried to contain my excitement, less I alert any of the other folks browsing around of the hidden nugget of gold in their midst, and gently flipped through the pages while trying to decide how much I would have to bid to ensure that I won this book of awesome. The inside was full of some really nice but unspectacular stock photos of the Cash family and some of his friends and collaborators. What sold me though, was the reproduction of the lyrics to one of my favorite Cash tunes, The Man in Black.

Really could not love this song more.

Really could not love this song more.

So there’s no doubt I’m going to buy this thing, but the question is how much to bid? Literally everything else on the tables had multiple bids and this had none, so I felt safe in sliding the booklet back in nondescript envelope, placing it back on the table as innocuously as possible, and putting down the minimum bid. Later that day I stopped back by the table and saw that my bid (I think it was $5) was the winner (winner, chicken dinner. Sorry, old habit.)

In retrospect, it’s not surprising that nobody else bid on this. First off, I made sure to tell NOBODY about what I had found, lest one of my other music savvy classmates swoop in at the last second and take my prize. I’m sorry to anyone I may have deceived. Wait, no I’m not. HAHAHAHAHA. Second, look at the date on that envelope again. It was 1987, and Johnny Cash could not have been more anonymous to high school/college kids than he was at that time. This was before the Cash Renaissance kicked off with his American Recordings series, before he completely owned Hurt, before his death in 2003, just 4 months after his beloved June, spurred even greater appreciation, before the Hollywood biopic, and before seemingly every hipster in the word was wearing a black Cash shirt and had THAT poster on their wall (you know the one, Johnny with his middle finger raised, and a sneer on his face that was more punk that anything the Sex Pistols had ever done.)

I had been lucky enough to catch some reruns of the old Johnny Cash back in the day, and had loved his music from the start, and I’m fiercely proud of that fact. As Mrs. Lo always tells me, I’m as unhip as they come, but my interests are kind of a barometer of things that hipsters will come to like one day (see zombies, vinyl, craft beer, etc.) This is probably the most glaring example. Those shows, by the way, have never really gotten their due. They are seriously amazing. Yes, there was a time when you’d turn on your TV in prime time and see this.

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And there was a time, Jon Snow, when “wearing the black” meant something really very different.

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Andy are you goofing on Elvis, baby?

 

I suppose there’s a few morals to this story: don’t judge a book by its cover, you find the best things in the oddest places, etc, etc. Maybe it’s that there’s always a diamond in the rough, so pass by that garage sale, auction table, or thrift store at your own peril. You never know what you’ll find in that plain, manilla envelope.

Cheers.

The best of 2013: Film and television

Don’t you love this time of year, when ever web site, publication or dufus with a website publishes their year end “best of” lists? Yeah, me neither, but that still isn’t enough to keep me from doing mine, and rather pretentiously splitting it up over two days to boot. Film and television today, with the much more difficult music lists later this week, including the ever anticipated best of 2013 playlist.

Film

One caveat here: I don’t get to as many movies as I used to (and when I do I often have two 10 year old boys in tow), so this is simply the best of what I saw this year. I often end up not seeing many of the critically acclaimed pictures until a year or two later when they hit Netflix or On Demand. Calibrate your expectations accordingly. The good news is, when I do make it out to a non-Pixar or franchise movie, it’s usually a guarantee that it will be worth your time and money.

10. Thor: The Dark World (sneaks into the top ten purely out of respect for Tom Hiddleston)

9. Zero Dark Thirty

8. Much Ado About Nothing

7. Mud (Btw, when did Matthew McConaughey secretly become the most money actor in Hollywood. Dude is on a serious hot streak.)

6. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Don’t care if the diehards didn’t like it I thought it was great and the Cumberbatch was downright awesome.)

5. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

4. Iron Man 3

3. Rush (May end up going down as the best sports movie ever.)

2. The World’s End (Absolutely love this movie, and believe it’s the best of the Cornetto trilogy when all is said and done.)

1. Gravity (Here’s all you really need to know about Gravity. I didn’t think there was any way possible that a movie was going to keep The World’s End from being my favorite film of the year, but Gravity did it. Truly amazing stuff, and the only time I would ever tell you to see a film in 3D vs. standard projection.)

Television

Another caveat. I actually don’t like a lot of what is on TV and don’t watch much of it. Your typical Chuck Lorre sitcom makes me want to hurl myself off a bridge. Again, calibrate your expectations accordingly.

10. Downton Abbey (Thought it slipped a bit from previous seasons but was still pretty darn entertaining, If nothing else it’s still a joy to watch Maggie Smith lay the smack down. Reason to be optimistic for next season: happy Lady Mary was dull and boring, but now she’ll have all the reason to rage and snark against the world)

9. The Daily Show

8. The Returned (I’ve only seen a handful of episodes so far, but it’s still cracking my top ten. It’s that good. A special award should go to Mogwai for creating an amazingly creepy vibe with their soundtrack alone.)

7. Colbert Report (Really upped their game with the quality of musical guests this past year.)

6. The Americans (Somehow this incredible show was not my favorite new show of the year, but not for lack of real quality.)

5. Gravity Falls (Yeah, it’s a Disney Channel cartoon but it is really brilliant and often hilarious. At its best it is on par with a first decade of the Simpsons mixed with some David Lynch. I refer you to the Time Traveler’s Pig and Fight Fighters episodes for proof.)

4. Sherlock

3. Mad Men (It got seemingly off track a couple of times this year, but the season finale placed Don in such an unexpected position and it opened multiple possibilities to the show that seemed impossible to contemplate before. I mean, Don might not die a miserable, old, forsaken wretch now, right?)

2. Orphan Black (My favorite new show this year by a pretty wide margin, featuring some truly mind blowing acting by star Tatiana Maslany.)

1. Breaking Bad (It really couldn’t be anything else, could it? This season gave is perhaps the finest, but most gut-wrenching hour of television ever made – Ozymandius, and that’s still not even my favorite episode of the show – that honor will always go to Dead Freight.)

You’ll notice one very noticeable exception from that list. I’m looking at you, Walking Dead. So you finally gave us the season finale we deserved last year, which basically means that the half season that just finished was, while admittedly being some of the better episodes of the show in recent memory (at least until Gov. Snooze showed up again), completely unnecessary. You frustrate me, Walking Dead. Here’s hoping you get yourself together now that the slate has been wiped clean of the Governor’s stain.

What were your favorites this year (i.e., what will I be binge watching on Netflix and cursing that I missed a couple of years from now?) If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go narrow down a pretty great year for music into one playlist.

Cheers.

 

Hunger Games Producers Concerned Area Man Will Never See Their Movie

AP – Orlando

Jim Tom Pinch

Producers of the Hunger Games movie franchise today expressed increased concern that an Orlando area man, identified only as 43 year old James, will never see one of their movies despite their exhaustive efforts to convince everyone in the coveted 18-45 demographic to do so. Sources close to the producers today detailed the extraordinary efforts they have put forth to convince what they believe is the last remaining holdout in Central Florida to give in and see one of the blockbuster films.

“It’s pretty amazing,” one of the sources confided. “This guy seems to be impervious to all of our tricks. After he failed to see the first film despite absolute media saturation, we figured he’d end up catching it on Netflix. He’s watched pretty much everything on there at least once. I mean, just last week we received confirmation that he watched Hobo With a Shotgun. Twice. I mean, seriously.”

After realizing that he wasn’t taking the Netflix bait, the producers hired a special consultant to formulate a plan to draw him into the sequel. This included ensuring he was not working on the day of the premiere, offering movie times every 15 minutes from 8 AM to 2 AM at his local theater, increased postings on Facebook and Twitter from friends and colleagues about their excitement over the film, and casting one of his favorite actors, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in a key role. Such tactics were used successfully to achieve complete 100% market demographic compliance in cities across the country. In this instance, however, the studio had one additional trump card to play.

“The real coup de gras in this case was music,” confirmed the source. “We backed up a big dump truck full of money to a band he really likes, The National, and got them to contribute a new song to the soundtrack. We know for a fact that he once watched an entire episode of Cougar Town just to see how they used a National song before, so we figured, if he’d sit through that pile of garbage for them, we’d be totally in the clear.”

As of press time, however, James has yet to see the film, much less express interest in it. He did cause brief excitement by watching Netflix for a while yesterday, in a move some had predicted would result in a catchup viewing of the first film before heading out to an early showing of the second this morning, but hopes were dashed when he ended up watching two episodes of Doctor Who instead.

Producers, however, are undaunted, and are already at work on an even more ambitious plan to achieve their 100% compliance goal, which we can exclusively reveal to you today.

“Basically, we’re going to recast and rewrite the film completely and use the latest in both market analysis and NSA data capture to appeal directly to our wayward movie buff out there. We’re turning it into a zombie-space-adventure-drama-comedy set in the United Kingdom during a Manchester City match and we’ve got Edgar Wright, Alfonso Cuaron, Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro attached to direct simultaneously. We have Benedict Cumberbatch, Kate Winslet, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Pegg, and Bruce Campbell in the lead roles, with supporting and cameo appearances by George Clooney, Monica Bellucci, Matt Damon, Mila Kunis, Nick Frost and a reincarnated Patrick Swayze. The film will be scored and soundtracked by Ennio Morricone, the reunited Smiths, and Neko Case, we’ll only be showing the film in theaters with 35 mm analog setups, and anyone who buys a ticket will get Cigar City beer and an autographed copy of the soundtrack on 78 rpm, 360 gram, gold plated, collectors edition vinyl with handwritten liner notes provided by Morrissey.  All we need to do now is get Reese Witherspoon attached in her Legally Blonde role and have her die a horrific onscreen death and we’ll have him, I’m sure. Wait, do you have Aaron Paul’s number, by the way? I’ve just had a fantastic idea!”

All of this has already driven the film’s preproduction costs over $800 million dollars. When questioned whether such a specific concentration on one individual was financially wise, our source responded, “Absolutely! 100% market share of the 18-45 demographic is priceless.”

When asked if they were worried that making such radical changes to the story could alienate long-time fans, another source remained confident.

“We could release 2 hours of footage of a character clipping her nails and reading the Sunday paper and we’d still do $180 million opening weekend, as long as we called her Catnip and the movie has Hunger Games in the title. Wait, sorry, what? Oh yes, Katniss, of course. My mistake.”

Our sources would not confirm reports that the studio had a fail safe plan in the future after all of the titles are released to Netflix to plant a teenage girl claiming to be the man’s long lost daughter with a burning desire to see the entire series in one marathon viewing, calling that the “nuclear option” and then adding, “we’ll get him eventually regardless. Mark my words.”